TURNERS FALLS — With comedian Zach Sherwin’s “The Crossroad Show” tour making stops along major East Coast cities, it can be confusing to see Turners Falls listed as a tourist destination.
Besides hitting bigger markets, The Crossword Show – a game show that uses a panel of local guests to solve a comedic crossword puzzle – hasn’t toured the East Coast since before the pandemic. . Now, heading to the Shea Theater Arts Center on Monday at 7 p.m., Sherwin is looking to do “the show down rabbit holes of comedy, music, trivia and puns, all inspired by the various response words” of the crossword game, as described in the event listing.
Sherwin, best known for starring in the YouTube series “Epic Rap Battles of History” and writing for “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” said the tour was looking for an additional venue, Turners Falls worked perfectly to fill the void.
“I love coming to Western Massachusetts because they’re my kind of people,” he said. “They’re smart people, but they’re people with funkiness and quirkiness.”
Sherwin said that after living in the Boston area for a few years and performing as a comedian, he wanted to “broaden the web a bit” and perform in smaller, more intimate venues. He then moved to Northampton, where he lived for a year and welcomed a new chapter of change.
The Crossword Show, Sherwin explained, started as an early concept pitched to her on Twitter by an acclaimed crossword enthusiast.
“I saw it with annoyance at first, a (direct message) from a hike on Twitter, you know?”
However, he kept the conversation going and soon his opinion on the idea changed drastically.
“It’s my favorite creative thing I’ve ever done,” Sherwin said. “If it was a relationship, I would say in my vows, ‘It’s all I ever wanted. I’ll never let you go.
The Crossword Show settled in Northampton in the Parlor Room at Signature Sounds, where WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte was featured as a guest panelist. Sherwin said he later learned of Belmonte’s other hat as president of the Shea Theater and was therefore connected to another venue.
Sherwin cited the arrival of new guests, as well as their “different sets of life experiences and attitudes”, as his favorite part of preparing for shows. Monday’s panel will feature Belmonte; Amherst-area comedian Kim DeShields; and Jennifer Malkowski, author, associate professor of film and media studies at Smith College and founder of the college’s Video Game Research Lab.
“There are like 10 different sliders that we are always moving and adjusting to find the right people,” he said, identifying humor, wit, marginalized identity and having good stories as favorable traits.
Those who might be drawn to The Crossword Show because they’re fans of Sherwin’s resume should prepare to experience much of what they already know and love, the comedian said. In addition to the crossword contest, there will be “seven to nine” different comedy rap songs performed, true to the roots that helped make Sherwin famous. After all, he says, music and crossword puzzles each get their magic from words.
“Lyrics are puzzles. You are trying to communicate some information and you have to do it in an effective way,” he said. “That’s what a crossword puzzle is, or understanding a maze, or understanding how life works.”
Tickets for The Crossword Show on Mondays at 7 p.m. at the Shea Theater on Avenue A can be purchased in advance for $15 at showclix.com/event/the-crossword-show-with-zach-sherwin. The show is listed as being for all ages.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]